Monday, September 10, 2007

Hop In It

In order to get the aroma and extra hit of hop in our dry-Hopped APA, we need, naturally, hops; and lots of them.

In this case, fresh Cascade hops. It's not exact, and sometimes we add more, sometimes less. It all depends on the quality of the hops. But the more the better.

It may not be the hop-bomb style that has developed a strong following the craft beer and homebrewer worlds, but its hoppiness is not to be denied.

The APA began it's life as a seasonal beer that was our version of a Hop Harvest. Being the hoppiest of our beers it soon developed dedicated fans who wanted to see it brewed more often.

A non-dry hopped version of the APA made its debut in 2004 as the Expedition Reserve APA, which was brewed to commemorate the Anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Again, the beer developed fans who wanted a pint of the hoppy brew year-round.

So, in 2005, the APA made its way onto the list of year-round beers.

The beer followed in the tradition of the highly-hopped American-style Pale Ales (where the APA's name originated). Over time, however, the desire for more hop flavor and aroma, propelled by our regular APA fans, led to some trials with dry-hopping in late 2006.

The trials involved trying several methods to best impart the hope flavor and aroma we looked for. For the smaller batches the Tap Room brews we suspend weighted bags of hops in a unitank and then move the beer into the tank.

At the Bottleworks, however, the concern was that the much larger volume would not pick up the hops evenly. Several methods were tried including a variation on the hop-back which circulated the beer through a pressurized vessel (the "hop-coffin" as it was known) containing the hops.

The method finally decided upon is similar to what is done at the Taproom. the beer is moved into a horizontal tank in which has the hops on the bottom and covered with domed stainless-steel screens. This prevents the hops from floating to the top and provides for more even exposure.

After getting the thumbs up from hop-heads within the company and our hop-craving customers, the operation was ramped up and officially became the Dry-Hopped APA.

The new beer required new packaging and as such you will now see the Dry-Dopped APA label on tap handles around town, as well as new bottle packaging in the stores.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Rack 'Em

If the aroma grew any stronger, folks might think Schlafly had gotten into the distilling business.

Yesterday, 33 bourbon barrels were filled with this year's batch of Schlafly's Special Reserve Imperial Stout. The beer will age in those barrels for the next several weeks with the specific date of bottling depending on how much flavor, and how quickly, the stout takes up.

Last year, the the beer took about two weeks to attain the desired character. A test barrel that was aged over two months knocked over even our most enthusiastic bourbon-aged brewer.

The aroma that flowed from the barrels as they filled was rich, sweet and far from delicate. A snoot-full of the stream blowing out as the barrel filled was potent, to say the least. Perhaps Missouri's decision to ban alcohol vaporizers was a wise move.

The imperial stout began it's life this spring as four consecutive 15-barrel brews knocked out into a 60-barrel fermenter. A brew that taxed our brewhouse's capacity, averaging 24° Plato. Our ever-voracious house ale yeast went to work on the malty giant, fermenting out in a few days.

Afterwards, the beer aged in the fermenter for months. We periodically sampled it to monitor the process. It's initial heat mellowed and rounded out; an important step as it is now introduced into barrels that bourbon formerly called home. We want to introduce a bourbon character, not set fire to the glass.

Peering into the barrels before flooding them with CO2 revealed a nice alligator-skin pattern to the char. As we went through filling the barrels, the entire cellar filled with the aroma of bourbon, roasted oak, and imperial stout. It drew several onlookers to whom the operation played "Pied-Piper." Though you wouldn't need a tucan's nose to figure out what we were up to.

After being bunged, the barrels went back up in the racks to age.

Bottles of the barrel-aged Imperial Stout will be available just in time to sip while Halloween goblins ring doorbells around the city.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Need a beer? Check the Brewfinder

In a foreign locale, or perhaps just an unfamiliar part of town, and you need a beer? Well, the Beer Mapping Project might be your ticket.

The folks behind the project take advantage of Google's mapping ability to plot the exact location of pubs around the country.

Check out our hometown, St. Louis, right here.

Remembering Michael Jackson

The Brewer's Association is hosting an online collection of remembrance for Michael Jackson. The compiling of messages is long so far. To add to our own thoughts send a message to

The Beerhunter Passes

Pints will be lifted the world over today in memory of one of the great, if not the greatest, beer writer of the century: Michael Jackson. Ever prolific and ever loquacious about his favorite liquids, Jackson's wriging cronicled the resurgence of interest in beer beginning in the 1970's.

Though writers are nothing if not argumentative, Jackson's work was often considered to be among the best by his fellow sribes.

More than merely creating a travelogue of pubs and breweries, or a laundry list of beers from around the globe, Jackson's writing doumented the life and craft of the still growing beer culture.

Jackson brought expertise without snobbery and love without question; he quaffed pints regarless of pedigree. From the finest craft brews wrought on moonless nights with closely guarded secrets or pulled from thousand-gallon tanks at the commercial level. No beer to was too pedestrian, nor too haughty. Each was appraised for what it was, not what others thought it should be.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Schlafly Features Local Wheat for Witbier

Schlafly Beer is continuing its commitment to local purveyors with the inclusion of Alhambra Wheat in this year's Witbier.

The Alhambra Wheat Company is located just across the river in Alhambra, Illinois. The unmalted soft red winter wheat grown by John Gorenz and his partners is ideal for witbiers and other wheat ales.

So far they have provided several sacks of herbicide-free and pesticide-free wheat for the brewery at the Schlafly Taproom. Some the wheat was used for the witbier, but there is talk of possibly experimenting with the Hefeweizen to see if it could be more regularly integrated into the beer.

Early in June, owner Dan Kopman, chief brewer Steven Hale and quality control manager Christian Artzner took a trip across the river to visit the farm at harvest time.

While there, they shared a pint or two with the crew as they watched over some of the harvesting operation.

They were even given a chance to take the massive combine for a spin around the field.

"It's like riding on an oceanliner," said Hale.

The Alhambra-accentuated Witbier will be available beginning this afternoon with the kickoff of Schlafly's Mussel Mania at the Schlafly Taproom, at 21st and Locust streets downtown. The festival features mussels and belgian-style beers such as Witbier and Belgian Dubbel.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Raspberry Puree

As the weather warms, requests for Raspberry Hefewiezen begin to pepper the bartenders.

Now, to their relief, and our customers, they can respond with a cool pint of Raz Hefe.

The Raz stands out in the Schlafly lineup, not only for its light tart note and its raspberry hue, but as the only fruit beer brewed by Schlafly.

As beers go, it's a straightforward affair. Not overly complex, but the addition of fruit contributes new layers to the beer.

The Raspberry Hefeweizen begins its life similar to the Schlafly Hefeweizen. Schlafly's Hefeveizen is a light, unfiltered wheat ale based on traditional german-style wheat ales, but fermented with our house ale yeast that minimizes the banana and clove character that are a signature of the traditional style. The result is a light-bodied beer drier than its forbearers with a wheat malt finish.

Apart from the tart and sweetness of the raspberry, malt is a dominant flavor character of the Raspberry Hefeweizen. The malt base comes from a mix of 2-row pale malt and wheat malt.

Hops are not a major player in wheat ales, but are added to balance the malt. A dose of Polish marynka hops are added for flavor and a few tettnanger just before the end of boil for aroma.

The signature of the Raz Hefe is the red raspberry puree which is added directly into the fermenter before the wort is pumped in from the kettle. The puree, supplied by family-owned Oregon Fruit Products and made from berries grown in Northwestern Oregon, adds flavor, color and even a bit of additional sugar to the beer.

Though the puree gives up a bit of its own sugar it does little to budge the beer's 9.7° Plato (approximately 1.039 for you specific gravity folks) starting gravity, which is a measure of relative level of sugar in the wort.

Fermentation takes a two to three days depending on the yeast's performance. The yeast converts the sugars in the wort into carbon dioxide (CO2, which is vented from the tank) and alcohol. Upon reaching he target gravity of 2.7° Plato, the tank's vent is closed, trapping some of the the CO2 which provides a base level of carbonation and an approximate ABV of 3.9%.

Before bottling or kegging, we rough-filter the Raspberry to reduce, but not eliminate, its yeast content. While it is an unfiltered beer we don't want the yeast to play as great a role as it does in the Hefeweizen.

The Raspberry Hefewiezen (or Raz) is available at the Schlafly Bottleworks, the Schlafly Taproom and stores throughout our distribution area. Raspberry Hef has been available on draft since 1994 and in bottles since 2004.
travel to
eXTReMe Tracker